Saturday, July 31, 2010

Glamping: Something I could be into

I don't really consider myself a girly-girl but somehow camping has never been one of my most favorite pasttimes.  It could all probably go back to the one time at my favorite summer camp, Camp Merrie-Woode, that we spent a night outside in the pouring rain and then I rolled downhill in my sleeping bag into a creek, to make matters more soggy.  I still have nightmares about that. 

Anywho, we have friends that ask us to go camping every once in a while and I always decline the offer.  But thanks to my new discovery, my response may change.  Enter, Gypsy Faire Tents and The Martyn House.  Now, here is some camping I could be down with:

That's right, Ladies and Gents.  It's the camping wave of the future...Glamping.  Aka glamorous camping.  Ahh yes.  I can picture it now...

The Martyn House offers $180 nightly rates (with a two night minimum) which includes an evening cocktail and a full breakfast the following day.  Sign me up.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Sweet By and By

I'll give you some advance warning: Neither of these recommendations are particularly uplifting, nor cheerful.  They are, however, both meaningful, poignant stories that truly touched me.  And I came across both purely by accident - or luck.

When I was at the beach with my family, I was browsing through the Quarter Moon Bookstore in Topsail, NC (adorable if you ever get the chance to visit!) and came across The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson.  I clearly didn't read the back as well as I should have - I read something about five friends and set in NC and was sold.  If I had bothered to read the entire synopsis on the back cover, I would have realized that these friends were not your average chick lit subjects since the story took place in a Nursing Home in NC. 

The characters are witty, funny, and real.  It is not a typical book I would read but I ended up loving it.  One of the best things I took from the book was something one of the characters talked about: One of the worst things to think about/talk about is aging and death yet it is something we all go through.  For all those NC girls, it is also a fun read to hear about parts of our State! 

And, as if old people in a nursing home wasn't cheery enough, I got The Boy in the Striped Pajamas on Netflix last night.  It was one of those that Netflix more or less "picked" for me based on my ratings of similar genres.  I usually prefer reading about WWII as opposed to films because somehow it is almost too gruesome to watch but this movie was fascinating.  (And I found out when researching for this post that it was based on a book so I can only imagine that is a great read!) 

It was set in Germany during the Holocaust but told the story from the perspective of the son of a Nazi Officer.  Bruno is 8 years old and his father moves his family out to the country so that he can oversee a gruesome concentration camp.  Bruno is torn from his friends and the life that he knew but has a great imagination and makes the best of things by exploring all around the countryside.  He eventually finds his way to the concentration camp and sees a little boy in "striped pajamas" on the inside of the fence that he befriends.  I can't give too much more info but let me assure you this is a powerful, wonderful movie!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weeknight Inspiration: Ham and Tomato Pie

So, I'm not complaining but when you have a garden this inevitably means you have veggies that you have to use up or give away before they go bad.  We currently have a big harvest of tomatoes that I don't want to go to waste.  A big yummy, southern tomato pie came to mind.  Problem is, my husband doesn't believe in vegetarian dishes - he thinks a meal isn't complete without meat.  So, I had to rethink my plan.  I found this recipe from Southern Living and it fit the bill - had meat, used up extra maters, and was super easy for a weeknight meal!  I practically already had everything on hand.

Tomato and Ham Pie
8 ounces of cooked ham
2 tomatoes sliced thinly (use what you have on hand - the recipe called for plum tomatoes but I used up some big delicious heirlooms we had)
1 frozen, unbaked pie shell
1 cup mozarella cheese
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 egg
1/3 cup half and half (I used fat free)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (I used more to use some of that up as well)
salt and pepper to taste

Brown onions and ham in a skillet.  Meanwhile, remove pie crust from freezer and spread 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard evenly across the bottom.  (I found this was easy to do with a pastry brush.) 

('scuse the shadow of my big fat head on the bottom.)

Layer 1/2 cup of mozzrella cheese over the mustard. 

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and half and half.

Once browned, put the ham and onions in the pie dish and cover with the tomatoes in an even layer.  Pour egg mixture over the tomatoes.  Top with remaining mozarella, salt and pepper and fresh basil.

Bake at 425 degrees on the bottom rack for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Frozen Grapes

My friend Meghann who seems to be on a roll with Tuesday tips lately taught me this idea:

Use frozen grapes to chill wine. 

Initially, she explained this idea to me while attempting to chill white wine.  It is a great idea because it cools the wine off without watering it down like ice might.  I immediately told my Grandmother who proceeded to wow all of her friends at their next party. 

The other night we tried it with red wine and it worked just as well. 

My friend Lane was over for dinner Sunday night and she suggested that her Mom used to freeze little baby mandarin orange slices as well to cool drinks.

An added bonus?  I pulled the frozen grapes out of the fridge and Lane grabbed one and took a bite.  I was a little bit horrified thinking that they would be completely solid but they actually make a perfectly sweet and chilled out snack with very little calories.  Seriously, frozen grapes beat regular grapes in my book any day.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Weeknight Inspiration: Chicken Rio Pollo

This one is inspired by my mother in law's New Mexican dish called Chicken Rio Pollo.  My husband gets irritated when we call it that since Pollo means Chicken in Spanish (goodness knows I know that after all my years of Spanish) BUT somehow Rio Pollo doesn't have the same ring after hearing her say it so often.

Before our garden, it was difficult to find New Mexican green chiles on the east coast but now we have a plethora.  If you run into them at a Farmer's Market or at Whole Foods or somewhere, do yourself a favor and pick some up.  They are kind of smoky tasting with a little heat but nothing over the top. 

I don't remember my mother in law's actual recipe but this is our interpretation and it is delish!

Chicken Rio Pollo
3-4 chicken breasts
5-6 roasted green chiles, skins removed
1 cup cheese of your choice (Mexican blend or pepper jack would work well)
blackening seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil

Prep the green chiles by removing the stalks and the seeds (unless you want the dish extra hot!).

Blacken the green chiles on the grill.  Let them cool and remove the skins - it is a meaty pepper so they should slide right off.

Take the chill off the chicken by setting it out, coating it with olive oil, salt, pepper and blackening seasoning while you heat up the grill.

Grill the chicken and top with green chiles and cheese.  We had ours with Mexican rice.  Ole!  (Kidding.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mid-Year Resolution: Mixing Fabrics

While overall I'd say that my taste in design airs on the traditional side, I certainly feel that I have the ability to take some risks.  One thing I have less faith in is my ability to mix and match fabrics.  I've been so inspired by images I see everywhere but have so little confidence when it comes to applying it myself.  So, my new goal is to do some serious mixin' and matchin' on my next project.  I think I'm going to focus on my bed.  I'm on the hunt for new bedside tables and new lamps and figure that is a perfect time to do a bed makeover.  Hold me to it when I come back later with some boring post about bland bedding I'm thinking of buying...

Kate Spade via Little Green Notebook

Black and Spiro store via Absolutely Beautiful Things
Speaking of Black and Spiro...did ya'll see the tutu'd desk she created?  I kind of love it.  But a discussion for another day since I'm supposed to be focusing on mixing fabrics...

Elle Decor

All kinds of color plus an animal print ottoman.  Mmmmhmmm.  Oh yeah.

Maybe something not so bright as this but I love the funkiness for a bedroom.

John Robshaw via
And love this one too. 

Three prints I never would have put together (five if you count the two additional patterns on the lamps) but somehow they work.  I'm sure I've read tricks for how to put things together like 1 solid, 1 pattern, 1 floral or something but honestly when I look at all of these images, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason but they just work.  So surely I can do it too, right?

Thoughts or tips for how to achieve these looks without it looking like you are insane?  Or do you just throw caution to the wind and go for it??

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paint Effects on the Floor

I am digging these painted floors I've seen in magazines lately. Goes to show that floors don't have to be boring or covered up by a rug. Look how both of these painted floors completely make these rooms:

Can you believe that is a paint effect?  It looks like a rug but think how much easier this is to clean!

At first glance it looks like hardwood but when you look closer you see that this is a paint treatment that looks like wood.  It extends all the way through the house.  I love, love, love.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meet Little Bear

Finished another little knitted animal.  In case you can't tell, it is a bear.  This one is for my friend Cecelia's baby, Marshall.  I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong on the faces of these things...their bodies look perfect and then I concoct these faces that look relatively ridiculous.  Needless to say, my friends' babies will never have two exactly alike of something I make them!  I will let them come up with a name but for some reason he looks like a Charlie to me...

Fabulous Kitchen Storage

I wouldn't know too much about kitchen storage...I have none.  But I covet some of these kitchen storage units.  Love the above that I saw via The Newlywed Diaries.  Love the combo of the sliding industrial door and the chalk board.   The shelves behind it are so nicely organized that they would be just fine if they were exposed but they took it one step further with this door. 

via Absolutely Beautiful Things

Some serious organization in those last two images! 

You know how much I love a library ladder.  This takes my love for a ladder to a whole new level!  And I adore the height of the doors out to the balcony.  The whole room appears so tall.

Kate Spade Kitchen via Little Green Notebook

I love the idea of open shelving but question my ability to keep it neat enough for public display at all times.  Check out the sink in the picture above!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

These are some serious bibliophiles and I dig it.

My friend Emily emailed me the other day about this site.  I hadn't had a chance to look at it until tonight.  And it was very timely since earlier today my boss was just bragging about his newly cleaned off bookshelves in his office.  It made me think I need to get to work on the ones in my house.

At any rate, these are some spectacular shelves/book arrangements.  I think Emily loves books as much as I love thinking about decorating.  So, needless to say, the name of the site is fitting for her - Bookshelf Porn.  Thanks to Emily for turning me on to it.  Ha ha. Get it?

Enough.  Look at the beauty of these books:

This was my personal favorite image.  Not sure how they did this but awesome nonetheless.
I feel like I'm looking at the set of the next Harry Potter movie.  Oh if only they would hurry up with that and NOT split it into two parts.  Annoying.  I digress...
This was Emily's favorite.  I bet I know why.  It kind of looks like it is on a boat, doesn't it?  Emily loves boats almost as much as books.  Or is it vice versa? 

You know how much I love a ladder in a library.
Oh yes, another ladder!

Secret passageway a la Clue.  Love it.
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